This afternoon I went walking in circles in the park. There’s a lovely spot with a set of wide, even, stone steps. I haven’t counted them lately, but I think there are more than 50.
I jog up the steps, and along a path overlooking the park. Then I walk down the steep hill, and jog back up the steps. I was on my fourth go-round, on the path above the park, when something made me stop in my tracks.
I looked to my right, into the trees at my eye level. Right in front of me, no more than 2 feet away, was a huge bird of prey. A hawk, maybe.
I looked at it. It looked at me. We were face to face for just a second. Then I reached into my hoodie pocket for my phone. I moved so slowly, so as not to scare the bird away.
I took my phone out, and looked down at it. I turned it over and righted it with one hand. It took a few seconds. I pressed the camera button. At least I think it was the camera button. I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses. The camera didn’t open. So I pressed again.
I slowly lifted the phone higher, closer to bird’s eye level. And just as I was about to press the button… you guessed it… the bird flew away.
I had wasted the 20 or so seconds I could have spent face to face with a giant bird fumbling with my phone. The bird, and the moment of communion were both gone.
How often have I missed out on a deep and meaningful experience because I’ve been mucking around with something else? Something less important? Something frivolous? Something unnecessary?
How many opportunities have I had to learn this lesson? Be present. Be still. Be engaged. Appreciate the magnitude of the each moment. The significance of each second.
I thank the bird for the lesson today. Maybe next time, I said, as I circled around again. Maybe next time.
Most common birds of prey in a city park that would allow you to get that close, if you want to look up their mug shots, would be Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk
Yes! I’m pretty sure it was a Cooper’s Hawk, but it was bigger than any I’ve ever seen before!
I have 20 GB of photos. My hope is that one day I will look back and feel like I have captured special moments in time and those images will help me reconnect with those moments. Images make the impermanent slightly more permanent. In that sense, they have some value. But sometimes it is better to forgo the effort, especially with birds.